As a senior at West Linn High School, Jaydon Grant decided to try something bold.
With basketball bloodlines, Grant made the decision to try out for football, since it would be his last chance to play the sport.
“I always wanted to play,” Grant said. “My senior I decided it was my last year to play, I might as well take a shot and play.’”
A year later, that shot has paid off.
Grant was all set to accept a walk-on offer from the University of Oregon or accept a scholarship offer from Portland State.
With one year of high school football under his belt, he ultimately landed in Corvallis after seeing a chance to make a contribution for the Beavers.
“When he saw that there was an opportunity here,” said cornerbacks coach Cory Hall. “He didn’t shy from it, he gravitated towards it.”
Grant had a strong showing in his first fall camp, but a shoulder injury that required surgery forced him to sit out the entire season.
Back from the injury, Grant continues to get a lot of reps behind returning starters Xavier Crawford and Dwayne Williams this spring. According to Hall, Grant could see time at corner, but is expected to play on special teams.
But it’s still a transition and a learning process for Grant whose football background isn’t as deep as his teammates. His success comes from picking the brains of his coaches and teammates to help make up for his limited football background.
“They really took me under their wing,” he said. “Really helped me understand the game of football and the (corner) position. I wouldn’t be able learn anything without my coaches."
“He’s learning the game,” Hall said. “He’s intelligent, he’s smart, those are his attributes.”
Jaydon of course is the son of former NBA player Brian Grant. Hall sees that as a key reason why Jaydon had success last fall prior to his shoulder injury, and why he continues to make strides in spring post shoulder surgery.
“He comes from that pedigree,” Hall said. “He understands what it takes to prepare like a pro.”
Christian the Pleaser:
Christian Wallace came in as one of the more heralded recruits in recent OSU history.
One might not know that by the way he carries himself around the program. He is on a mission to make the coaches who recruited him, and stayed by his side while he was ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA prior to last season proud.
“He wants to please, he wants to please coach Andersen,” Hall said. “(Andersen) gave him a great opportunity and you see that he’s out here. He works hard, he’s trying his best to pick up the techniques and learn the playbook.”
Wallace has only been playing corner for two weeks, primarily a running back at Sealy High School, Wallace reminds his position coach of a couple players in the NFL who also switched from offense to defense during their college careers.
“Elephant in the room is Sean Smith (Oakland corner, who played at Utah,)” Hall said. “Same transition from receiver to corner, you look at Richard Sherman, (Wallace) is bigger obviously than Sherman, but he's making the transition from offense to corner."
“The thing that he has on them is he is making the transition early on as a freshman.”
Jay the Student:
In a way, sophomore corner Jay Irvine is happy that his redshirt season was cut short a year ago. It forced him to take a different approach to being a college football player.
“It’s actually been a good experience,” Irvine said. “I’m not glad it happened, at the same time I am. Now I actually get to see the game, watching film more than last year because I didn't watch a lot of film, I just wanted to go out and play.”
Obviously there was the disappointment of not being able to get on the field. But what Irvine was able to do was learn the art of mentally preparing for games while he is still getting up to speed physically.
Irvine noticed early that nearly everyone at the Division-I level is an athlete. But what separates a good athlete from a good football player is the work you put in the classroom.
“Everyone’s athletic,” Irvine said. “But if you know what you’re doing, your assignment, alignment, personnel...you know exactly what’s coming.”
After being on the shelf for several months, Irvine returned to practice today and participated in skelly drills.
“It feels good,” Irvine said. “I think I like learning the game, taking the spring off and learning the game, rehabbing and getting back up to par.”
In the case of Irvine, and other players who can’t participate in practice due to injury, Hall has noticed that those players are excited to apply what they learn in the classroom, even if they can’t play on the field.
“They are students on the football field, and off the football field in the classroom,” Hall said. “They get excited because the things they learn in the classroom, they come (to the practice field) and sit on the sideline and they watch the offense, and everything that they learn in the classroom, they are able to see it for themselves.”